Following years of being left off of many elementary school curriculums, cursive handwriting is starting to resurface. As the Associated Press reports, public schools across the U.S. are making lessons in writing loopy, unbroken longhand a requirement.
It wasn't so long ago that learning cursive was considered a grade school rite of passage. But since the start of the new millennium, students have traded in their contraband gel pens for smartphones and transitioned to the digital world. Teachers have also switched focus from handwriting to typing. In recent years, schools in many states have abandoned the old-fashioned writing style in favor of courses on “keyboard proficiency.”
But something has shifted: In 2016, Alabama and Louisiana passed laws implementing cursive in all public schools. They joined 12 additional states with similar laws mandating proficiency in traditional script. One of the most encouraging signs for the future of handwriting happened in fall 2016, when the New York City public school system, the largest in America, recommended their teachers introduce students to cursive writing in the third grade.
New York State Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis told the AP that cursive became an issue for her following a voter registration event she attended. After asking an 18-year-old to sign his name, she watched him spell it out in print, the only way he knew how to write by hand.
In addition to teaching kids how to sign their own names, those in the pro-cursive camp say the skill has other uses. Pre-computer era documents, such as letters written by an ancestor or a founding father, require a familiarity with cursive to read. Opponents, on the other hand, say that teaching cursive presents unnecessary hurdles to kids learning to read and write. And as a 2016 article from Nautilus pointed out, there’s virtually no research suggesting that cursive has any cognitive benefits.
Whether or not it's useful, some students in New York City at least seem to appreciate it. Third-grader Camille Santos told the AP that cursive is "actually like doodling a little bit." Senior Emily Ma said, "It's definitely not necessary but I think it's, like, cool to have it.”
[h/t U.S. News]